Forgotten Fruit, a video from TVE's Earth Report series

Kolli Hills in Tamil Nadu where minor millet farming is being reintroduced

Harvesting Finger millet (Eleusine coracana) in the Kolli Hills.

Finger millet (Eleusine coracana) shortly before harvesting

Looking at millet grain

Over the last century some 75% of crop varieties have been lost, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. They say that we now rely on just three crops; wheat rice and maize for 60% of our calories. And poorer countries are almost twice as dependant on these cereals as richer nations. But are we relying on too few crops?

In Southern India scientists are on their way to the Kolli Hills. An ancient culture is changing and these scientists believe that some old traditions point the way ahead out of what they see as a future global food crisis. The Kolli Hills are mountains of the Eastern Ghat range in Tamil Nadu. Nearly 40,000 people eke out a living high above the plains. Until the 1960s when the road was built they were all but cut off from the land below. The scientists are going to see the farming families who have been tilling this land for centuries.

They are beginning to have some success in a project to reintroducing a once popular grain, finger millet. But it’s not easy. This minor millet has been neglected by science and is of little commercial value. Many farmers have switched to cash crops using the money to buy cheap rice. Although globally now a minor crop, finger millet is both highly nutritious and very tough. This millet could help provide secure food for the future around the world especially with accelerating climate change.

This film was produced as a financial and conceptual cooperation between GFU, Bioversity and TVE.

For more background on the film please visit TVE's Earth Report web page.

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